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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Must See Sports - Third Weekend of October 2013

Last week's advantage/disadvantage record, excluding series: 2-4  
Last week's advantage/disadvantage record in series: 1-0
2013 Advantage/Disadvantage Record, excluding series: 65-50
2013 Advantage/Disadvantage Record (series only): 21-11-4

Thursday, October 17


Seattle Seahawks (5-1) at Arizona Cardinals (3-3)

The Seahawks travel down to the desert for what could prove to be a pivotal NFC West matchup. It could be pivotal if the Cardinals win. I don't expect the Cardinals to win.

The Seahawks are some kookie breaks against the Indianapolis Colts away from being 6-0. The Cardinals are playing good defense, but have only one win against a team with a winning record. Still, they are battle-tested and have only been out of the game at the start of the fourth quarter once this year, at New Orleans.

The problem is that the Cardinals have not run the ball effectively and they face a solid top-to-bottom defense. Yet they appear to have a ball-control game plan each week. Seattle, especially running back Marshawwn Lynch (487 yds., 5 TD, 4.2 avg.) can run over anyone, though the Cardinals front seven has been stingy against the run this year. However, Cards defensive end Calais Campbell (18 tak., 2.5 sacks, 2 TFL, 1 FF) has been a disruptive force in the trenches and will not be 100% (leg) if he plays at all.

Advantage: Seahawks

Richard Sherman owned the Cardinals last year. He's gotten better. 4

Major League Baseball

American League Championship Series - Game 5
Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers
Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75 ERA, 177 Ks) - Red Sox vs Anibal Sanchez (14-8, 2.57 ERA, 202 Ks) - Tigers

Jon Lester has been "money" in the postseason but Anibal Sanchez has been mostly unsolvable all season. Sanchez got his "clunker" out of the way in the ALDS against Oakland. The Tigers are at home, and Detroit manager Jim Leyland's unconventional toying with the batting order proved to be the difference maker in Game 4. There's a reason Jimmy Smokes has won three pennants and two World Series.

Advantages: Game - Tigers, Series - Tigers

Don't expect to see much of Justin Verlander's ex, Kate Upton. In fact, don't expect to see much of Verlander either; he isn't starting until Game 7, if necessary. 1

Friday, October 18

National League Championship Series - Game 6
Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals
Clayton Kershaw (16-9, 1.82 ERA, 232 Ks) - Dodgers vs Michael Wacha (4-1, 2.78 ERA, 65 Ks, 64.2 IP) - Cardinals

Round one went to the rookie, Wacha. Round 2 goes to the master. The Cards have never come up with a timely solution to Dodgers pitching while the Dodgers have pushed Cardinals pitchers into uncomfortable situations, though the Cards have held it together in their three wins. The Dodgers aren't losing another game in which Kershaw starts.

Advantage: Dodgers (original series pick: Dodgers)

Saturday, October 19

Major League Baseball

National League Championship Series - Game 7 (if necessary)
Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals
Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-8, 3.00 ERA) - Dodgers vs Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94 ERA, 219 Ks) - Cardinals

Again, a rookie vs master situation. Ryu was absolutely brilliant in the critical Game 3. That lightning won't strike twice, not in a Game 7 in St. Louis. I expect there to be a Game 7 and I expect Wainwright to earn his millions and sent the Redbirds to their fourth World Series in 10 years.

Advantage: Cardinals

American League Championship Series - Game 6 (if necessary)
Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox
Max Scherzer (21-3, 2.90 ERA, 240 Ks) - Tigers vs Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74 ERA, 96 Ks, 108.1 IP)

Clay Buchholz had daunting regular season numbers, but all Max Scherzer does is win, win, win (no matter what)! I'll take the Cy Young winner with the retooled batting order over the Man with the Bad Perm, who has had a sub-par postseason (6.17 ERA).

Advantage: Tigers

NCAA Football

#9 UCLA Bruins at #13 Stanford Cardinal

Head Coach Jim Mora, Jr. has made the Bruins into the torch holders in Los Angeles and a legitimate BCS contender. Sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley (1,469 passing yds., 12 TD, 4 INT 68% comp.; 260 rushing yds., 3 TD, 4.3 avg.) has got to be on the "long list" for the Heisman at this point in the season. While UCLA running back Jordon James (463 yds., 5 TD, 6.3 avg.) is considered doubtful (ankle) for the game, the Bruins have sufficient firepower to outgun their intrastate conference rivals to the north.

Stanford's real strengths are in their running game, particularly senior running back Tyler Gaffney (570 yds., 7 TD, 5.3 avg.), and its defense. The problem for Stanford is that UCLA's defense has been stout all year and should be capable of containing the threat posed by Gaffney and should be able to neutralize the Cardinal's best receiving threat, junior Ty Montgomery (31 rec. 514 yds., 5 TD). He can't throw the ball to himself and he has just been "okay" against Arizona State and Washington, the other two ranked opponents that Stanford has faced this season.

Advantage: UCLA

#5 Florida State Seminoles at #3 Clemson Tigers

Four words: Game of the Week! The ACC Atlantic Division will be decided on Saturday. The ACC Champion has as good a chance as ever to send its champion to the BCS Championship game, so this game could be one to ultimately award all of the marbles.

I'm a believer in Clemson. I'm a believer in Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney and what he has done with the program. I'm a big believer in quarterback Tajh Boyd (1,783, 15 TD, 2 INT, 67% comp.) and his top target, Sammy Watkins (36 rec., 582 yds., 4 TD).Their defense is ridiculously good.

On the other hand, Florida State's defense has been bulletproof so far and their QB, Jameis Winston (1,441 yds., 17 TD, 2 INT, 12 YPA) has been as good this year, as illustrated when they blasted then-#25 Maryland, 63-0. The Seminoles have scored 40 or more points in every game this year. They have a stable of running backs averaging six yards per carry. And they have two burners in Kenny Shaw (23 rec. 466 yds., 3 TD) and Rashad Greene (23 rec., 405 yds., 5 TD) who just need to run one route to be a scoring threat: "straight".

On paper, FSU looks like they are too much. That's why they play the games. This game is at Clemson's Death Valley. The Tigers are have not lost at home in a conference game in over three years. The Seminoles haven't won there in over a decade.

Advantage: Clemson

A win on Saturday will make a lot of folks in Clemson happy. 2

Sunday, October 20

Major League Baseball

American League Championship Series - Game 7 (if necessary)
Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox
Justin Verlander (13-12, 3.46 ERA, 217 Ks) - Tigers vs John Lackey (10-13, 3.52 ERA) - Red Sox

I don't expect this series to go seven games but if it does, I will not pick against the Red Sox. The Detroit Tigers are an excellent team but they aren't the '86 Mets; they aren't even the '84 Tigers.

Advantage: Red Sox


Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) at Detroit Lions (4-2)

The Bengals and Lions have a significant meeting with playoff implications for, possibly the first time this century. I didn't research that; I'm just assuming.

What is not an assumption is that the Lions are going to have a lot of trouble stopping the Bengals' one-two backfield punch of "The Law Firm" Benjarvis Green-Ellis (295 yds, 3 TD) and Giovani Bernard (237 yds., 2 TD, 4.0 avg.). Detroit can do some exciting things in the passing game, but Cincinnati's defense is a step up from those of teams the Lions have dominated, like the Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins, and Chicago Bears.

On the other hand, the Lions did have a break through running the ball against the stingy Cleveland Browns, against whom they ran up 31 point at the Dawg Pound. Reggie Bush (376 yds., 1 TD, 4.8 avg.) has 78 yards on 17 carries against the Browns. Only Ardian Peterson of the Vikings has posted a greater rushing total (88 yds.) against the Browns.

Detroit is at home and playing well. But I am going to go with my gut and pick the Bengals. I simply think they are the better team right now.

Advantage: Bengals

Denver Broncos (6-0) at Indianapolis Colts (4-2)

Football fans have been waiting all week for Sunday night! You may not have heard, but Peyton Manning (2,179 yds., 22 TD, 2 INT, 74% comp.) is returning to Indy. It's gotten a little attention in the media.

The Colts' revamped defense, anchored by star defensive end Robert Mathis (26 tak., 9.5 sacks, 2 FF), may provide the toughest challenge the Broncos' QB has faced all year. But the ferocious pass rush hasn't helped the Colts running defense, next-to-last in the NFL. That's where Knowshon Moreno (373yds., 7 TD, 4.7 avg.), having a breakout year, can be the X-factor for the Broncos offense.

The big news for the Broncos defense: linebacker Von Miller (68 tak., 18.5 sacks, 6 FF, 1 INT in 2012) is back, baby! His presence should help fill in some of the holes in the Broncos Swiss cheese pass defense (last in the NFL). Numbers can be slightly misleading, though.

The Broncos have scored so many points and led for so much of the season that opponents will be forced to pass. But Broncos' struggles in the secondary, absent of cornerback Champ Bailey (61 tak., 2 INT, 9 PD in 16 starts in 2012) until last Sunday, have been glaring this season, big leads notwithstanding.Bailey plus Miller times the Manning factor equals too much for the Ponies.

Advantage: Broncos

♫ "It's so say yesterday." ♪ 3

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